More often than not, start-ups and new small businesses don’t have the domain authority to appear on the first page for their target keywords. This can be extremely frustrating for a business owner who is just starting out. Money is tight, and generating revenue is the top priority. Offline marketing campaigns always help, such as print ads, television or radio ads, billboards, and more – but what about businesses that want to break into the online space and attract new customers through search?
Especially in highly competitive niches, getting on the first page of results can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Anyone who expects to appear at the top of the first page for a high traffic keyword immediately is kidding themselves. The sites at the top rank highly because they have earned it. So how do we compete with these businesses?
Believe it or not, it is possible to appear on the first page of search results for highly competitive keywords, even if your website is brand new.
Google Ad Campaigns
The easiest (albeit most expensive) way of getting your brand on the first page is through Google AdWords. If you have the budget, it’s possible to get your brand on the front page for highly competitive keywords sooner rather than later.
Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can get rather expensive, especially for highly competitive keywords, so be sure to optimize your ads and target specific keywords as opposed to generic broad-match keywords. I wrote an article on how to get the most out of your PPC campaigns that will explain in more detail how to optimize your ads.
Let’s say that you own a hotel in Seattle. Consider what keywords potential customers would use to find your business. “Hotels in Seattle” or “cheap hotels in Seattle” quickly come to mind. Running ad campaigns for these keywords can get you on the front page.
Ads appear at the top of the page and in the side bar. The keyword used in this example is probably a competitive keyword, and it might not be cost effective for you to run a campaign using it – but you get the point. Ads can get your brand front and center for relevant search traffic.
Local Search Listing
Businesses with a real location that has customers walking through the door should always put some effort into local search.
A really good place to start is GetListed.org. Run a search for your business and see where you have local listings and where you can add others.
A few of the popular business listing aggregators are below.
I ran a search for “auto repair shops” to see what types of local listing appeared on the first page of results. Google took into account my location and gave me some good local results.
Google Places is the most prominent, but Yahoo Local also shows up for this query. Results may vary depending on your location.
I ran another query with the keyword “burger joints.” Again, Google Places was shown front and center, but in this search Yelp made an appearance.
As you’ve seen, listings will vary based on keywords and locations, so your best bet is to run searches for your target keywords to see what listing aggregators show up. Generally speaking, Google Places for Business should be your top priority, with Yahoo Local, Yelp, and others also being big factors. It doesn’t hurt to get listed in all these locations, and I certainly recommend doing so.